Study English every day--absolutely free!
(more about these lessons and the teacher)

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Mini-Lessons from Wednesday, Feb. 29, 2012

These Mini-Lessons are posted on Twitter, and in China on Weibo, throughout the day. You can follow them there!

To get the most from them, you should try to use them in sentences, or discuss them with friends. Writing something on Twitter or Weibo is a great way to practice!
  • Tip: Read an English newspaper. Find short articles and find out what's happening in the world. Builds vocabulary, great for discussion.
  • Proverb: Love conquers all: Whatever problem people are having, if there's enough love, they can fix it. (But it might take some work!)
  • Academic Vocabulary: invoke: use someone's name, a law, or another outside authority to get what one wants. "He invoked his rights as a citizen."
  • Literature: Dionysus: Greek god of wine and drama (called "Bacchus" in Rome). His followers had wild parties to worship him.
  • Art: sketch: a simple drawing (sometimes painting) used like "notes" for a larger, finished work. Also a verb, "to sketch."
  • Slang: uh, uh-huh, and huh-uh: a thinking sound, "yes," and "no." A: "Uh, can I borrow some money?" B: (if yes) "Uh-huh." (if no) "Huh-uh."
  • Geography: Washington, D.C.: US capital city. "DC" = "District of Columbia." Can be confusing, as there is a Washington State in the western US.

NOTES:
  1. Academic Vocabulary is the Academic Word List from Oxford University Press. This is "a list of words that you are likely to meet if you study at an English-speaking university."
  2. The Proverb, and the Literature, Art, and Geography words are from lists in the Dictionary of Cultural Literacy. I wrote the definitions and examples myself.
  3. The Tip and Slang words are from my own lists, and I wrote the definitions and examples myself.

This lesson is ©2012 by James Baquet. You may share this work freely. Teachers may use it in the classroom, as long as students are told the source (URL). You may not publish this material or sell it. Please write to me if you have any questions about "fair use"

K.O.'d: Boxing Idioms 2

We've moved!
This lesson has been moved to my latest website, and can now be found at

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Mini-Lessons from Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2012

These Mini-Lessons are posted on Twitter, and in China on Weibo, throughout the day. You can follow them there!

To get the most from them, you should try to use them in sentences, or discuss them with friends. Writing something on Twitter or Weibo is a great way to practice!
  • Science: omnivore: an animal that will eat anything; herbivores eat only plant material, and carnivores eat only meat. Humans are omnivores.
  • Language Study: nom de plume: French for "pen name," a false name used by an author. "Mark Twain" is the nom de plume of Samuel Clemens.
  • Business: standard of living: "high" or "low," the comfort of everyday life (both goods and services) available to a person, community, etc.
  • Literature: Paradise Lost: epic poem (1667) by John Milton, about Adam and Eve, who were removed from the Garden of Eden ("Paradise").
  • New Words: placist: one who looks down on others because of where they live. A: "Don't marry him! He's from L.A.!" B: "You’re such a placist."
  • Slang: better luck next time: words of encouragement. A: "Our team lost the game!" B:" That's too bad; better luck next time."
  • Modern History: Fidel Castro: (1926-) led revolution. Prime Minister and President of Cuba, only communist country in Western hemisphere. Now retired.

NOTES:
  1. Except for the Slang words, all the words in these Mini-Lessons came from lists either on the Oxford University Press site or in the Dictionary of Cultural Literacy. I wrote the definitions and examples myself.
  2. The Slang words are from my own list, and I wrote the definitions and examples myself.

This lesson is ©2012 by James Baquet. You may share this work freely. Teachers may use it in the classroom, as long as students are told the source (URL). You may not publish this material or sell it. Please write to me if you have any questions about "fair use"

OOPS!

Hi, Everybody!

I hope you are learning a lot from the FREE Daily English Lessons. I work hard to make them the best that I can.

But sometimes I make a mistake.

My friend just wrote to me about the "Answers to the Practice" for Monday's lesson, "Aesop's Fables 2: The Tortoise and the Hare." I accidentally gave the right LETTERS (1 i; 2 b; 3 e; etc.) but the wrong WORDS.

I have corrected the answers in the lesson, and here they are again:

1 i fatigue; 2 b pace; 3 e assent; 4 h doze; 5 d assertion; 6 f proposal; 7 g appointed; 8 a ridicule; 9 c swift

I hope this didn't cause you any trouble.

Please let me know if you see other problems, or if you have any questions.

peace,
James

A Blow-by-Blow: Boxing Idioms 1

We've moved!
This lesson has been moved to my latest website, and can now be found at

Monday, February 27, 2012

Mini-Lessons from Monday, Feb. 27, 2012

These Mini-Lessons are posted on Twitter, and in China on Weibo, throughout the day. You can follow them there!

To get the most from them, you should try to use them in sentences, or discuss them with friends. Writing something on Twitter or Weibo is a great way to practice!
  • Link: 200 Easy Reading stories for ESL beginners, with audio, vocabulary and exercises: http://www.eslfast.com/easyread/index.html
  • Ancient History: medieval: adjective for the European Middle Ages, between the Fall of Rome and the modern age. The time of knights and cathedrals.
  • Irregular Verbs: I oversee projects for a living. I oversaw my biggest project ever last year. I have overseen 23 projects for my current company.
  • Idiom: get in someone's hair: bother or annoy someone. "I couldn't get any housework done today; the kids kept getting in my hair."
  • Pop Culture: Laurence Olivier: (1907-1989) one of the greatest actors of the 20th century, often acted in plays by Shakespeare, including "Hamlet."
  • Slang: forever: for a long time. "Where have you been? I haven't seen you in forever!"
  • Government: kangaroo court: a court that makes decisions not based on fairness, but for some reason that is not honest.

NOTES:
  1. The Idiom, the History and Government words, and some of the Pop Culture words, are from lists in the Dictionary of Cultural Literacy. I wrote the definitions and examples myself.
  2. The Link was found online; the Slang words, the Irregular Verbs, and some of the Pop Culture words are from my own lists, and I wrote the definitions and examples myself.

This lesson is ©2012 by James Baquet. You may share this work freely. Teachers may use it in the classroom, as long as students are told the source (URL). You may not publish this material or sell it. Please write to me if you have any questions about "fair use"

Aesop's Fables 2: The Tortoise and the Hare


GET READY:

If a rabbit and a turtle were in a race, which one would you bet on? Why?

READ THIS:

A Hare one day ridiculed the short feet and slow pace of the Tortoise, who replied, laughing: "Though you be swift as the wind, I will beat you in a race." The Hare, believing her assertion to be simply impossible, assented to the proposal; and they agreed that the Fox should choose the course and fix the goal. On the day appointed for the race the two started together. The Tortoise never for a moment stopped, but went on with a slow but steady pace straight to the end of the course. The Hare, lying down by the wayside, fell fast asleep. At last waking up, and moving as fast as he could, he saw the Tortoise had reached the goal, and was comfortably dozing after her fatigue.
Slow but steady wins the race.

NOTES:

1. swift as the wind: This is a simile, an expression that compares two things using "like" or "as."
2. the Fox should choose the course and fix the goal: It means that their friend, the Fox, would decide where they would run, and where the "finish line" would be.
3. by the wayside: next to the road
4. fast asleep: This "fast" means "completely." "Fast asleep" is a fixed expression.

QUESTIONS OF FACT:

Answer these questions about the story in complete sentences:

1. Who said, "I will beat you in a race"?
2. Who is male (he, him) and who is female (she, her)?
3. Who decides where the two will run, and where they will finish?
4. What did the Hare do wrong? What did the Tortoise do right?
5. Who won the race? Why?

PRACTICE:

Here is some vocabulary from the story:

a. to ridicule: to make fun of, to mock
b. pace: speed, rate
c. swift: fast, quick
d. an assertion: a statement that the speaker thinks is true; a claim
e. to assent: to agree, to accept an assertion
f. a proposal: a suggestion
g. appointed: chosen
h. to doze: to sleep lightly
i. fatigue: tiredness, exhaustion

Use one of the above terms in each of the following sentences. Be sure to use the correct form.

1. After the meeting, I was overcome with __________.
2. Bob finished before Mike because he worked at a faster __________.
3. If you __________ to my suggestion, we can start today.
4. It's a bad idea to __________ at your desk.
5. No one believed his __________ that he was stronger than me.
6. Please give me your __________ for a new project.
7. The new chairman was __________ by the committee.
8. We shouldn't __________ people who are different from us.
9. You must be __________ if you want to get to the station on time.

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION OR WRITING:

There are no "right" answers. Give your own opinion. If you can, try to talk about these questions in English with a friend. If not, try writing your answers.

1. Why did the two decide that "the Fox should choose the course and fix the goal"?
2. Why do you think the Hare lay down to sleep?
3. How do you think the Hare felt at the end of the story? How did the Tortoise feel?
4. The lesson (the "moral") of this story is, "Slow but steady wins the race." Do you agree? Always?

ANSWERS TO THE QUESTIONS OF FACT:

Remember, there may be more than one way to express your answer.

1. The Tortoise said, "I will beat you in a race."
2. The Hare is male, and the Tortoise is female.
3. The Fox decides where the two will run, and where they will finish.
4. The Hare lay down to sleep, but the Tortoise kept going steadily.
5. The Tortoise won the race because she never stopped going, but the Hare lay down to sleep.

ANSWERS TO THE PRACTICE:


1 i fatigue; 2 b pace; 3 e assent; 4 h doze; 5 d assertion; 6 f proposal; 7 g appointed; 8 a ridicule; 9 c swift

This lesson is ©2012 by James Baquet. You may share this work freely. Teachers may use it in the classroom, as long as students are told the source (URL). You may not publish this material or sell it. Please write to me if you have any questions about "fair use."

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Mini-Lessons from Sunday, Feb. 26, 2012

These Mini-Lessons are posted on Twitter, and in China on Weibo, throughout the day. You can follow them there!

To get the most from them, you should try to use them in sentences, or discuss them with friends. Writing something on Twitter or Weibo is a great way to practice!
  • Tip: Memorize poems. Poetry is the highest form of any language, and the sound of poems makes them easier to remember. Learn some by heart!
  • Proverb: Where there's smoke there's fire: Where there seems to be a problem (there's smoke), there probably is one (there's a fire).
  • Academic Vocabulary: fluctuate: go up and down, get bigger and smaller, etc. "The price of gasoline fluctuates based on supply and demand."
  • Literature: Achilles: great Greek fighter in Trojan War. As a baby, all but his heel was dipped in a magic river; later, he was shot there, died.
  • Art: symphony: a long musical work with several parts. Beethoven's 5th Symphony (da da da DUMMMM) may be the most famous.
  • Slang: That's a shame: "That's too bad." A: "I lost my wallet!" B: "Oh, that's a shame."
  • Geography: Sri Lanka: an island country near India, used to be called Ceylon. Mainly Buddhist, with a strong Hindu minority.

NOTES:
  1. Academic Vocabulary is the Academic Word List from Oxford University Press. This is "a list of words that you are likely to meet if you study at an English-speaking university."
  2. The Proverb, and the Literature, Art, and Geography words are from lists in the Dictionary of Cultural Literacy. I wrote the definitions and examples myself.
  3. The Tip and Slang words are from my own lists, and I wrote the definitions and examples myself.

This lesson is ©2012 by James Baquet. You may share this work freely. Teachers may use it in the classroom, as long as students are told the source (URL). You may not publish this material or sell it. Please write to me if you have any questions about "fair use"

Which Child Are You?

We've moved!
This lesson has been moved to my latest website, and can now be found at

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Mini-Lessons from Saturday, Feb. 25, 2012

These Mini-Lessons are posted on Twitter, and in China on Weibo, throughout the day. You can follow them there!

To get the most from them, you should try to use them in sentences, or discuss them with friends. Writing something on Twitter or Weibo is a great way to practice!
  • Science: acute angle: angle between 0° and 90°. At least two, and usually three, angles in a triangle are acute angles. (Sometimes one is 90°).
  • Language Study: Dewey Decimal System: one system of organizing books on library shelves, using codes (call letters) to keep books together by subject.
  • Business: mediation: attempt by a neutral "third party" to settle a disagreement between two parties instead of their going to court.
  • Literature: Aesop’s fables: stories, many with talking animals, that teach moral lessons. "The Tortoise and the Hare" is one of the most famous.
  • New Words: Fist-bump: knocking fists together, sometimes instead of a handshake, or maybe as a sign of success. "We won! Fist-bump me!"
  • Slang: giving one a hard time: teasing, or making things difficult, for one. Teacher: "Don't give me a hard time! Just sit down and study!"
  • Modern History: forty-niners: about 80,000 men (mostly) who went to California in 1849 and after in the "Gold Rush," to take gold from the earth.

NOTES:
  1. Except for the Slang words, all the words in these Mini-Lessons came from lists either on the Oxford University Press site or in the Dictionary of Cultural Literacy. I wrote the definitions and examples myself.
  2. The Slang words are from my own list, and I wrote the definitions and examples myself.

This lesson is ©2012 by James Baquet. You may share this work freely. Teachers may use it in the classroom, as long as students are told the source (URL). You may not publish this material or sell it. Please write to me if you have any questions about "fair use"

Cowboy Talk 1

We've moved!
This lesson has been moved to my latest website, and can now be found at

Friday, February 24, 2012

Mini-Lessons from Friday, Feb. 24, 2012

These Mini-Lessons are posted on Twitter, and in China on Weibo, throughout the day. You can follow them there!

To get the most from them, you should try to use them in sentences, or discuss them with friends. Writing something on Twitter or Weibo is a great way to practice!
  • Link: Learn American idioms in short conversations: http://www.englishdaily626.com/idioms.php
  • Ancient History: Cleopatra: (69-30 BC) famous beauty and queen of Egypt. Lover of Roman emperor Julius Caesar and later Mark Antony.
  • Irregular Verbs: Sometimes dogs bite people. One bit my friend in July. It's a bad dog, who has bitten many people.
  • Idiom: knock on wood: refers to a "good luck" action; some people really do it. "Once I get this job (knock on wood) I'll buy a new car."
  • Pop Culture: beatnik: member of 1950s US "counter culture," who loved modern art, poetry, music; and didn't like middle-class values.
  • Slang: not exactly: "You're nearly correct." A: "Are you from L.A.?" B: "Not exactly. I'm from Pasadena; they're next to each other."
  • Government: parliamentary system: government with a parliament (a group of lawmakers) who also enforce the law. The UK has parliamentary system.

NOTES:
  1. The Idiom, the History and Government words, and some of the Pop Culture words, are from lists in the Dictionary of Cultural Literacy. I wrote the definitions and examples myself.
  2. The Link was found online; the Slang words, the Irregular Verbs, and some of the Pop Culture words are from my own lists, and I wrote the definitions and examples myself.

This lesson is ©2012 by James Baquet. You may share this work freely. Teachers may use it in the classroom, as long as students are told the source (URL). You may not publish this material or sell it. Please write to me if you have any questions about "fair use"

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Mini-Lessons from Thursday, Feb. 23, 2012

These Mini-Lessons are posted on Twitter, and in China on Weibo, throughout the day. You can follow them there!

To get the most from them, you should try to use them in sentences, or discuss them with friends. Writing something on Twitter or Weibo is a great way to practice!
  • Tip: Read my column and lessons. Check the Shenzhen Daily Monday and Thursday, szdaily.sznews.com/ And study my online lessons!
  • Proverb: A stitch in time saves nine: Taking care of a problem earlier (a stitch in time) saves more trouble later (nine stitches later).
  • Academic Vocabulary: notion: idea, belief or understanding. "I don't like hip hop music! Where did you get that notion?"
  • Literature: David: king of Israel in the Bible. As a shepherd boy, killed a giant named Goliath; as a man, wrote great poems about God.
  • Art: primitivism: paintings or other art meant to look like they were done by children, or by people from simple, traditional cultures.
  • Slang: to pick someone up: to give someone a ride in a car. "My workmate picks me up every morning and we ride to work together in his car."
  • Geography: San Andreas Fault: a line that runs between two plates of earth in California; when one plate moves, there's a big earthquake.

NOTES:
  1. Academic Vocabulary is the Academic Word List from Oxford University Press. This is "a list of words that you are likely to meet if you study at an English-speaking university."
  2. The Proverb, and the Literature, Art, and Geography words are from lists in the Dictionary of Cultural Literacy. I wrote the definitions and examples myself.
  3. The Tip and Slang words are from my own lists, and I wrote the definitions and examples myself.

This lesson is ©2012 by James Baquet. You may share this work freely. Teachers may use it in the classroom, as long as students are told the source (URL). You may not publish this material or sell it. Please write to me if you have any questions about "fair use"

Aesop's Fables 1: The Lion and the Mouse


GET READY:

Who is stronger, a lion or a mouse? Is there any way a mouse could be "stronger"?

READ THIS:

A Lion was awakened from sleep by a Mouse running over his face. Rising up in anger, he caught him and was about to kill him, when the Mouse piteously entreated, saying: "If you would only spare my life, I would be sure to repay your kindness." The Lion laughed and let him go.

It happened shortly after this that the Lion was caught by some hunters, who bound him by strong ropes to the ground. The Mouse, recognizing his roar, came up and gnawed the rope with his teeth, and setting him free, exclaimed: "You ridiculed the idea of my ever being able to help you, not expecting to receive from me any repayment of your favor; but now you know that it is possible for even a Mouse to confer benefits on a Lion."

NOTES:

1. To "spare someone's life" means to let them live, when you have the power to kill them.
2. "bound" is the past tense of "bind," meaning "to tie." bind, bound, have/has bound

QUESTIONS OF FACT:

Answer these questions about the story in complete sentences:

1. What woke up the Lion, and how?
2. What did the Mouse tell the Lion (in your own words)?
3. Who caught the Lion? What did the do with him?
4. How did the Mouse know the Lion needed help?
5. What does the Mouse tell the Lion?

PRACTICE:

Here is some vocabulary from the story:

a. piteously: in a way that makes you feel sorry for him
b. to entreat: to beg, to ask for something
c. to gnaw: to chew, especially slowly and for a long time
d. to exclaim: to call out excitedly
e. to ridicule: to make fun of
f. repayment: the act of giving back of something that is owed
g. to confer: to give, in a formal way
h. benefit: something good, something that helps someone

Use one of the above terms in each of the following sentences. Be sure to use the correct form.

1. It's not nice to __________ people less fortunate than you.
2. "Oh, the flowers are beautiful!" she __________.
3. When he graduated, the university __________ special honors on the hard-working student.
4. "Please, don't take away my bike," the boy begged his father __________.
5. The bank took away the house because the owner didn't __________ the loan.
6. There are many __________ to eating healthy food.
7. The new mother __________ the hospital to take good care of her baby.
8. Babies often enjoy __________ on something when new teeth are coming in.

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION OR WRITING:

There are no "right" answers. Give your own opinion. If you can, try to talk about these questions in English with a friend. If not, try writing your answers.

1. Why do you think the Lion spared the Mouse's life?
2. Do you believe that the weak can sometimes be helpful to the strong?
3. Think of a real-life story about something like this that has happened in your life.

ANSWERS TO THE QUESTIONS OF FACT:

Remember, there may be more than one way to express your answer.

1. The Mouse woke up the Lion by running across his face.
2. The Mouse told the Lion that if the Lion didn't kill him, the Mouse could help him someday.
3. Some hunters caught the Lion and tied him up.
4. The Mouse heard the Lion roaring.
5. The Mouse tells the Lion that even a mouse can help a lion; that is, a weaker person can help a stronger.

ANSWERS TO THE PRACTICE:

1. ridicule; 2. exclaimed; 3. conferred; 4. piteously; 5. repay; 6. benefits; 7. entreated; 8. gnawing

This lesson is ©2012 by James Baquet. You may share this work freely. Teachers may use it in the classroom, as long as students are told the source (URL). You may not publish this material or sell it. Please write to me if you have any questions about "fair use."

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Mini-Lessons from Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2012

These Mini-Lessons are posted on Twitter, and in China on Weibo, throughout the day. You can follow them there!

To get the most from them, you should try to use them in sentences, or discuss them with friends. Writing something on Twitter or Weibo is a great way to practice!
  • Science: paleontology: study of ancient plants and animals, especially ones that have become fossils.
  • Language Study: i.e.: short for Latin "id est," meaning "that is." Used to say something in other words. "I'm with my favorite person, i.e., my wife."
  • Business: tenant: person who occupies property (land, house, office, etc.) and pays rent to the owner. Also called a "lessee" (one who leases).
  • Literature: Winnie-the-Pooh: popular bear from children's books (1926 and 1928), friend of Christopher Robin. He loves "hunny" (honey).
  • New Words: wow factor: ability to make people say "Wow!" Often hard to explain. "People love Lady Gaga because of her wow factor."
  • Slang: Ouch!: a sound of pain, but also used when someone says something that hurts your feelings. A: "Your shirt is ugly." B: "Ouch!"
  • Modern History: Ottoman Empire: created by the Turks from the 14th to the 20th centuries, now modern Turkey. Once covered parts of three continents.

NOTES:
  1. Except for the Slang words, all the words in these Mini-Lessons came from lists either on the Oxford University Press site or in the Dictionary of Cultural Literacy. I wrote the definitions and examples myself.
  2. The Slang words are from my own list, and I wrote the definitions and examples myself.

This lesson is ©2012 by James Baquet. You may share this work freely. Teachers may use it in the classroom, as long as students are told the source (URL). You may not publish this material or sell it. Please write to me if you have any questions about "fair use"

Office Idioms 2

We've moved!
This lesson has been moved to my latest website, and can now be found at

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Mini-Lessons from Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2012

These Mini-Lessons are posted on Twitter, and in China on Weibo, throughout the day. You can follow them there!

To get the most from them, you should try to use them in sentences, or discuss them with friends. Writing something on Twitter or Weibo is a great way to practice!
  • Link: Listen to conversations: http://englishconversations.org/?s=podcast
  • Ancient History: Fall of Rome: 5th-century end of the Roman Empire, partly because of attacks from outside, and partly because the last emperor quit.
  • Irregular Verbs: Mike grinds coffee every morning. He ground some for me yesterday. He probably has ground a ton in his life!
  • Idiom: pie in the sky: an unreal hope. "Thinking you can learn English without studying is just pie in the sky."
  • Pop Culture: Ella Fitzgerald: African-American jazz and pop singer. Specialized in jazz-style "scat singing" (making a new tune, with no words).
  • Slang: Why so glum, chum?: "Why are you sad (glum), friend (chum)?" We like words that rhyme, like "glum" and "chum."
  • Government: theocracy: nation ruled by religious leaders, with religious law stronger than civil; like some Islamic countries, the Vatican, etc.

NOTES:
  1. The Idiom, the History and Government words, and some of the Pop Culture words, are from lists in the Dictionary of Cultural Literacy. I wrote the definitions and examples myself.
  2. The Link was found online; the Slang words, the Irregular Verbs, and some of the Pop Culture words are from my own lists, and I wrote the definitions and examples myself.

This lesson is ©2012 by James Baquet. You may share this work freely. Teachers may use it in the classroom, as long as students are told the source (URL). You may not publish this material or sell it. Please write to me if you have any questions about "fair use"

Office Idioms 1

We've moved!
This lesson has been moved to my latest website, and can now be found at

Monday, February 20, 2012

Mini-Lessons from Monday, Feb. 20, 2012

These Mini-Lessons are posted on Twitter, and in China on Weibo, throughout the day. You can follow them there!

To get the most from them, you should try to use them in sentences, or discuss them with friends. Writing something on Twitter or Weibo is a great way to practice!
  • Tip: Plan a trip. Even if you can't go, study other places in English, read train schedules, choose hotels. Learn English as you dream!
  • Proverb: The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence: What the other person has always looks better than what I have.
  • Academic Vocabulary: priority: amount of importance something has. "Studying is a low priority for many students; they would rather have fun."
  • Literature: Pandora's box: Zeus gave a box to Pandora (the first woman) and told her not to open it. She did; all the world's troubles flew out.
  • Art: Mona Lisa: Leonardo da Vinci's painting of a woman, famous for her strange smile. Located in the Louvre in Paris.
  • Slang: to tick someone off: to make someone angry. "When I'm late to work, it ticks my boss off."
  • Geography: Rustbelt: areas in northeastern US cities where factories used to be a main part of the economy, but are now closing.

NOTES:
  1. Academic Vocabulary is the Academic Word List from Oxford University Press. This is "a list of words that you are likely to meet if you study at an English-speaking university."
  2. The Proverb, and the Literature, Art, and Geography words are from lists in the Dictionary of Cultural Literacy. I wrote the definitions and examples myself.
  3. The Tip and Slang words are from my own lists, and I wrote the definitions and examples myself.

This lesson is ©2012 by James Baquet. You may share this work freely. Teachers may use it in the classroom, as long as students are told the source (URL). You may not publish this material or sell it. Please write to me if you have any questions about "fair use"

The Bronze Ring (23): The Hero's Final Return


GET READY:

Do you believe in "happy endings"?

The gardener's son now has the bronze ring again.

READ THIS:

[132] "Bronze ring," commanded the young man, "obey thy master. Let my ship appear as it was before."
[133] Immediately the genii of the ring set to work, and the old black vessel became once more the wonderful golden ship with sails of brocade; the handsome sailors ran to the silver masts and the silken ropes, and very soon they set sail for the capital.
[134] Ah! how merrily the sailors sang as they flew over the glassy sea!
[135] At last the port was reached.
[136] The captain landed and ran to the palace, where he found the wicked old man asleep. The Princess clasped her husband in a long embrace. The magician tried to escape, but he was seized and bound with strong cords.
[137] The next day the sorcerer, tied to the tail of a savage mule loaded with nuts, was broken into as many pieces as there were nuts upon the mule's back.

NOTES:

Here is some vocabulary from the story:

a. merrily: happily, joyfully (from the adjective "merry")
b. glassy: smooth, like glass
c. to clasp: to hold, embrace, hug
d. to seize: to catch, grab hold of, take into one's power
e. to bind: to tie
f. cord: rope
g. savage: wild, unable to be controlled

PRACTICE:

Use one of the above terms in each of the following sentences. Be sure to use the correct form.

1. The children laughed __________ when they saw the funny old man.
2. The two companies were __________ together by a contract.
3. You should use a strong __________ to tie a box onto your bike.
4. The police __________ the gang before they could escape.
5. It is easy to skip stones on a __________ lake.
6. The __________ dogs killed the farmer's chickens.
7. Let's __________ our hands together and sing.

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION OR WRITING:

If you can, try to talk about these questions in English with a friend. If not, try writing your answers.

1. Why is it important to the captain (the gardener's son) that the ship look like it did before?
2. Why do you think the mule is loaded with nuts? How does that relate to the number of pieces the old man is broken into?
3. Do you think the gardener's son will stay home now, or do you think he will set off again?

ANSWERS TO THE PRACTICE:

1 a merrily; 2 e bound; 3 f cord; 4 d seized; 5 b glassy; 6 g savage; 7 c clasp

This lesson is ©2012 by James Baquet. You may share this work freely. Teachers may use it in the classroom, as long as students are told the source (URL). You may not publish this material or sell it. Please write to me if you have any questions about "fair use."

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Mini-Lessons from Sunday, Feb. 19, 2012

These Mini-Lessons are posted on Twitter, and in China on Weibo, throughout the day. You can follow them there!

To get the most from them, you should try to use them in sentences, or discuss them with friends. Writing something on Twitter or Weibo is a great way to practice!
  • Science: placenta: organ where the new, growing "baby" is fed, and its waste removed, through the mother's blood. Comes out after birth.
  • Language Study: aphorism: a short, often clever statement that teaches something, like "Slow but steady wins the race." Similar to a proverb.
  • Business: certificates of deposit: or "CDs." Bonds issued by banks to people. Longer term = higher interest; penalties for taking money early.
  • Literature: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: Robert Louis Stevenson's story (1886) of a good man, Dr Henry Jekyll, whose dark side is the evil Edward Hyde.
  • New Words: rocket science: something that takes great intelligence; usually used in the negative. "Anyone can fix a car; it isn't rocket science."
  • Slang: deal with something: take care of something. "My son was in a fight at school, and I had to go see the principal to deal with it."
  • Modern History: Pancho Villa: (1878-1923) Mexican leader in revolution against president Porfirio Diaz. Model of a "bandido" (Mexican bandit).

NOTES:
  1. Except for the Slang words, all the words in these Mini-Lessons came from lists either on the Oxford University Press site or in the Dictionary of Cultural Literacy. I wrote the definitions and examples myself.
  2. The Slang words are from my own list, and I wrote the definitions and examples myself.

This lesson is ©2012 by James Baquet. You may share this work freely. Teachers may use it in the classroom, as long as students are told the source (URL). You may not publish this material or sell it. Please write to me if you have any questions about "fair use"

Fun Grammar Rules 3


GET READY:

What other "fun" grammar rules can you think of? (Like "Never say 'never'" for example.)

READ THIS:

Read these "Grammar Rules" and try to find out what's wrong with each one.

1. Consult the dictionery to avoid mispelings.
2. To ignorantly split an infinitive is a practice to religiously avoid.
3. Last but not least, lay off clichés.
4. Use the semicolon properly, always use it where it is appropriate; and never where it isn't.
5. And don't start a sentence with a conjunction.
6. Don't overuse exclamation marks!!!
7. Place pronouns as close as possible, especially in long sentences, as of 10 or more words, to their antecedents.
8. Write all adverbial forms correct.
9. Steer clear of incorrect forms of verbs that have snuck in the language.
10. If I've told you once, I've told you a thousand times, resist hyperbole.

ANSWERS:

1. PROBLEM: "dictionary" and "misspellings" are spelled wrong.
CORRECT FORM: Consult the dictionary to avoid misspellings.
2. PROBLEM: "To ignorantly split" and "to religiously avoid" are split infinitives. This is where a word is inserted between "to" and the verb in an infinitive.
CORRECT FORM: To split an infinitive ignorantly is a practice to avoid religiously.
3. PROBLEM: "Last but not least" is a cliche. Try a simple "finally."
CORRECT FORM: Finally, lay off cliches.
4. PROBLEM: A semi-colon is used to divide two closely-related sentences; in the sentence below, we need one after "properly," and we DON'T need one before the conjunction "and."
CORRECT FORM: Use the semicolon properly; always use it where it is appropriate, and never where it isn't.
5. PROBLEM: Conjunctions join two things; if one is at the start of a sentence, it's not joining anything! Yet the sentence below starts with "And," a conjunction.
CORRECT FORM: Don't start a sentence with a conjunction.
6. PROBLEM: Even one exclamation mark (!) indicates strong emotion; using more than one is typical for high school girls writing notes to each other, but it's not appropriate in formal writing.
CORRECT FORM: Don't overuse exclamation marks!
7. PROBLEM: A pronoun and the word it refers to should not be too far apart. Compare the corrected sentence and the original to help you understand the problem.
CORRECT FORM: Place pronouns as close as possible to their antecedents, especially in long sentences, as of 10 or more words.
8. PROBLEM: Most of the time, adverbs end in "-ly," but in casual speech, people sometimes leave this off. It should be used (when appropriate) in written communication. (Some adverbs, like "fast," do NOT end in "-ly.")
CORRECT FORM: Write all adverbial forms correctly.
9. PROBLEM: Irregular verbs can be difficult. "Sneak" is in fact a regular verb, so the correct forms of "sneak" are sneak, sneaked, sneaked. But an "irregular" form, "snuck," has been used so often that it is now listed in some dictionaries.
CORRECT FORM: Steer clear of incorrect forms of verbs that have sneaked in the language.
10. PROBLEM: "Hyperbole," or exaggeration, is overstating something, or saying it too strongly. In the sentence below, we can be sure the speaker HASN'T said something "a thousand times."
CORRECT FORM: As I've told you many times, resist hyperbole. (One of many possible corrections.)

QUESTION FOR DISCUSSION OR WRITING:

Try to think of more examples of "wrong" use of the rules above; then write some correct sentences. For example:

#1 (wrong): "I have finished all my homework accept science."
#1 (right): "I have finished all my homework except science."

#8 (wrong): "He ran quick."
#8 (right): "He ran quickly."

This lesson is ©2012 by James Baquet. You may share this work freely. Teachers may use it in the classroom, as long as students are told the source (URL). You may not publish this material or sell it. Please write to me if you have any questions about "fair use."

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Mini-Lessons from Saturday, Feb. 18, 2012

These Mini-Lessons are posted on Twitter, and in China on Weibo, throughout the day. You can follow them there!

To get the most from them, you should try to use them in sentences, or discuss them with friends. Writing something on Twitter or Weibo is a great way to practice!
  • Link: Advanced English grammar exercises: http://www.rong-chang.com/ex/contents.htm
  • Ancient History: Spanish Inquisition: a court run by the Catholic Church in the late 15th century. It used torture to find people with "wrong beliefs."
  • Irregular Verbs: A bad man likes to steal things. One of them stole my wallet. It's the first time someone has stolen anything from me.
  • Idiom: alpha and omega: "beginning and end," from the Bible. Also "the most important part." "Reading is the alpha and omega of learning."
  • Pop Culture: When the Saints Go Marching In: American jazz song, originally a spiritual song. Often connected to New Orleans and "Dixieland" jazz
  • Slang: Grrrr!: a sound of anger or frustration. "Grrrr! My key won't work!
  • Government: hawks and doves: hawks want a strong military to keep their nation's place in the world; doves prefer peace and cooperation.

NOTES:
  1. The Idiom, the History and Government words, and some of the Pop Culture words, are from lists in the Dictionary of Cultural Literacy. I wrote the definitions and examples myself.
  2. The Link was found online; the Slang words, the Irregular Verbs, and some of the Pop Culture words are from my own lists, and I wrote the definitions and examples myself.

This lesson is ©2012 by James Baquet. You may share this work freely. Teachers may use it in the classroom, as long as students are told the source (URL). You may not publish this material or sell it. Please write to me if you have any questions about "fair use"

Fun Grammar Rules 2


GET READY:

Can you think of some "fun" grammar rules like the ones below in your language?

READ THIS:

Read these "Grammar Rules" and try to find out what's wrong with each one.

1. Don't use commas, which are not necessary.
2. Parenthetical words however should be enclosed in commas.
3. Check to see if you any words out.
4. In the case of a report, check to see that jargonwise, it's A-OK.
5. As far as incomplete constructions, they are wrong.
6. About repetition, the repetition of a word might be real effective repetition - take, for instance the repetition of Abraham Lincoln.
7. In my opinion, I think that an author when he is writing should definitely not get into the habit of making use of too many unnecessary words that he does not really need in order to put his message across.
8. Use parallel construction not only to be concise but also clarify.
9. It behooves us all to avoid archaic expressions.
10. Mixed metaphors are a pain in the neck and ought to be weeded out.

ANSWERS:

1. PROBLEM: The comma in the sentence below is useless.
CORRECT FORM: Don't use commas which are not necessary.
2. PROBLEM: We DO use commas to set off comments that are not part of the "flow" of the sentence, like "however" in the sentence below.
CORRECT FORM: Parenthetical words, however, should be enclosed in commas.
3. PROBLEM: There's a word missing in the sentence below!
CORRECT FORM: Check to see if you left any words out.
4. PROBLEM: "Jargon" is specialized language, peculiar to a certain job or social group. "Jargonwise" and "A-OK" in the sentence below are jargon.
CORRECT FORM: In the case of a report, check to see that you have avoided jargon. (This is only one of many ways to fix this sentence.)
5. PROBLEM: Certain groups of words, called "constructions," belong together. The one that has been done wrong in the sentence below is "As fgar as [something] go/goes…"
CORRECT FORM: As far as incomplete constructions go, they are wrong.
6. PROBLEM: While some repetition is OK (as in some speeches by Lincoln and others), it is usually better to avoid it.
CORRECT FORM: Some repetition might be effective, as in the speeches of Abraham Lincoln.
7. PROBLEM: It is best to be concise, not wordy, as in the sentence below.
CORRECT FORM: An author should not use too many unnecessary words to put his message across. (This is only one of many ways to improve this sentence.)
8. PROBLEM: "Parallel constructions" require us, for instance, to use articles repeatedly, or infinitive forms.
Example: "The farmer had a sheep, a cow, and horse." Since we used articles the first two times, we must use one the third time. (However, "The farmer had a sheep, cow, and horse" is also OK.)
CORRECT FORM: Use parallel construction not only to be concise but also to clarify.
9. PROBLEM: In the sentence below, "Behooves" is an old-fashioned ("archaic") expression.
CORRECT FORM: It is best for us all to avoid archaic expressions.
10. PROBLEM: If you introduce a metaphor into a sentence, you should carry it through. In the sentence below, it seems that we should "weed out pains in the neck." There are at least two ways to fix this:
CORRECT FORM: Mixed metaphors are a pain in the neck and ought to be massaged until better. OR Mixed metaphors are like noxious plants and ought to be weeded out.

QUESTION FOR DISCUSSION OR WRITING:

Try to think of more examples of "wrong" use of the rules above; then write some correct sentences. For example:

#3 (wrong): "I will back home now."
#3 (right): "I will go back home now."

#8 (wrong): "He was a doctor, a husband, and father."
#8 (right): "He was a doctor, a husband, and a father."

This lesson is ©2012 by James Baquet. You may share this work freely. Teachers may use it in the classroom, as long as students are told the source (URL). You may not publish this material or sell it. Please write to me if you have any questions about "fair use."

Friday, February 17, 2012

Mini-Lessons from Friday, Feb. 17, 2012

These Mini-Lessons are posted on Twitter, and in China on Weibo, throughout the day. You can follow them there!

To get the most from them, you should try to use them in sentences, or discuss them with friends. Writing something on Twitter or Weibo is a great way to practice!
  • Tip: Read children's books. The English will be easier, there will be pictures to help, and they'll be FUN. You'll still learn vocabulary.
  • Proverb: Out of the frying pan, into the fire: From one problem to a bigger one, usually by choosing wrong in handling the first problem.
  • Academic Vocabulary: empirical: from experience or observation, not just an idea. "Good science requires empirical data, not just theories."
  • Literature: Adam and Eve: first man and woman in the Bible. Made by God, they broke his laws and were sent out of the Garden of Eden.
  • Art: Taj Mahal: a mausoleum (tomb) built by Muslim king Shah Jahan in Agra, India, for his wife. One of world's most beautiful buildings.
  • Slang: knockout: a very good-looking person. "Have you seen Larry's new girlfriend? She's a knockout!"
  • Geography: Pacific Ocean: world's largest ocean, with Asia and Australia on west, North and South America on east. Name means "peaceful."

NOTES:
  1. Academic Vocabulary is the Academic Word List from Oxford University Press. This is "a list of words that you are likely to meet if you study at an English-speaking university."
  2. The Proverb, and the Literature, Art, and Geography words are from lists in the Dictionary of Cultural Literacy. I wrote the definitions and examples myself.
  3. The Tip and Slang words are from my own lists, and I wrote the definitions and examples myself.

This lesson is ©2012 by James Baquet. You may share this work freely. Teachers may use it in the classroom, as long as students are told the source (URL). You may not publish this material or sell it. Please write to me if you have any questions about "fair use"

Fun Grammar Rules 1


GET READY:

Do you think grammar is "fun"? Most people don't. (I hope you'll find this lesson fun!)

READ THIS:

Read these "Grammar Rules" and try to find out what's wrong with each one.

1. Make sure each pronoun agrees with their antecedent.
2. Just between you and I, the case of pronoun is important.
3. Verbs has to agree in number with their subjects.
4. Don't use no double negatives.
5. A writer must be not shift your point of view.
6. About sentence fragments.
7. Don't use run-on sentences you got to punctuate them.
8. In letters essays and reports use commas to separate items in series.
9. Reserve the apostrophe for it's proper use and omit it when its not needed.
10. Don't abbrev.

ANSWERS:

1. PROBLEM: When a pronoun refers to something earlier in the sentence (its "antecedent." It must match in number (singular or plural=one or many) and person (first=I, we; second=you, you; third=he, she, it, they). In the example, "each pronoun" is singular but "their" is plural.
CORRECT FORM: Make sure each pronoun agrees with its antecedent.
2. PROBLEM: There are several cases for pronouns, including subject (I, you, he, she, etc.), object (me, you, him, her, etc.), and possessive (mine, yours, his, hers). In the sentence, since the pronouns are the object of the preposition "between," they should be "you" and "me."
CORRECT FORM: Just between you and me, the case of pronoun is important.
3. PROBLEM: Another singular/plural problem. "Verb has" but "verbs have."
CORRECT FORM: Verbs have to agree in number with their subjects.
4. PROBLEM: Saying "no" or "not" twice in a sentence is generally wrong, but some teachers now find it acceptable in some cases.
CORRECT FORM: Don't use any double negatives. OR Use no double bnegatives.
5. PROBLEM: "Point of view is often called "person," as in "first person," "second person," and so on. The sentence below shifts from third ("a writer") to second "you").
CORRECT FORM: A writer must be not shift his or her point of view.
6. PROBLEM: Proper sentences must have a subject and a predicate. The sentence below has no verb (and furthermore is a prepositional phrase, which cannot stand alone).
CORRECT FORM: Be careful about sentence fragments. (There are other ways to fix this, too.)
7. PROBLEM: When a complete sentence (subject and predicate) is finished, we must isolate it either with punctuation (see 1), a conjunctions (see 2), or other ways. Also, the sentence uses "got" instead of "have."
CORRECT FORM: 1a. Don't use run-on sentences. You have to punctuate them. 1b. Don't use run-on sentences; you have to punctuate them. 2. Don't use run-on sentences, because you have to punctuate them.
8. PROBLEM: Read the corrected sentence to understand the rule.
CORRECT FORM: In letters, essays, and reports, use commas to separate items in series.
9. PROBLEM: "Its" is a possessive; "it's" is a contraction for "it is." This is a common mistake.
CORRECT FORM: Reserve the apostrophe for its proper use and omit it when it's not needed.
10. PROBLEM: Some abbreviations are acceptable in formal writing "p.m." "e.g." "etc." for instance). Others are not, like "abbrev."
CORRECT FORM: Don't abbreviate.

QUESTION FOR DISCUSSION OR WRITING:

Try to think of more examples of "wrong" use of the rules above; then write some correct sentences. For example:

#4 (wrong): "I don't see no reason I should go."
#4 (right): "I don't see any reason I should go."

#9 (wrong): "Theyre going to leave soon."
#9 (right): "They're going to leave soon."

This lesson is ©2012 by James Baquet. You may share this work freely. Teachers may use it in the classroom, as long as students are told the source (URL). You may not publish this material or sell it. Please write to me if you have any questions about "fair use."

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Mini-Lessons from Thursday, Feb. 16, 2012

These Mini-Lessons are posted on Twitter, and in China on Weibo, throughout the day. You can follow them there!

To get the most from them, you should try to use them in sentences, or discuss them with friends. Writing something on Twitter or Weibo is a great way to practice!
  • Science: global positioning system: or GPS, system of satellites used to find out where something (you, your car) is on earth.
  • Language Study: fallacy: an error of logic, or a mistake in facts, like believing that the sun goes around the earth, or thinking 2 + 2 = 5.
  • Business: John Maynard Keynes: (1883-1946) British economist. "Keynesian economics" recommends large government spending to help slow economies.
  • Literature: Rudyard Kipling: (1865-1936) English author (born in India) of adventure stories, many set in Asia, including "The Jungle Book."
  • New Words: mani-pedi: beauty treatment of hands (manicure) and feet (pedicure), includes trimming and polishing of fingernails and toenails.
  • Slang: Howdy: a cowboy's way to say "hello." A: "Howdy, pardner!" B: "Well, howdy yourself there, Tex!"
  • Modern History: The Blue and the Gray: two sides of American Civil War (1861-1865). Blue = North, Yankees, Union. Gray = South, Rebels, Confederacy.

NOTES:
  1. Except for the Slang words, all the words in these Mini-Lessons came from lists either on the Oxford University Press site or in the Dictionary of Cultural Literacy. I wrote the definitions and examples myself.
  2. The Slang words are from my own list, and I wrote the definitions and examples myself.

This lesson is ©2012 by James Baquet. You may share this work freely. Teachers may use it in the classroom, as long as students are told the source (URL). You may not publish this material or sell it. Please write to me if you have any questions about "fair use"

The Bronze Ring (22): The Ring is Found Again


GET READY:

Do you believe that everything happens for a reason, or do think there is such a thing as "coincidence"?

After taking the bronze ring from an old magician, the three mice were bringing it to the gardener's son; they lost it in the sea, and decided to spend the rest of there lives on a deserted island.

READ THIS:

[130] The blind mouse was speedily deserted by her two sisters, who went off to hunt flies, but as she wandered sadly along the shore she found a dead fish, and was eating it, when she felt something very hard. At her cries the other two mice ran up.
[131] "It is the bronze ring! It is the talisman!" they cried joyfully, and, getting into their boat again, they soon reached the mouse island. It was time they did, for the captain was just going to land his cargo of cats, when a deputation of mice brought him the precious bronze ring.

NOTES:

Here is some vocabulary from the story:

a. speedily: quickly, with great speed
b. to desert: to leave alone, to abandon
c. joyfully: happily, with great joy

PRACTICE:

Two of the words above are adverbs, words that describe the way something is done:
a. speedily: from the adjective "speedy" which comes from the noun "speed"
c. joyfully: from the adjective "joyful" which comes from the noun "joy"

Here are five nouns:
a. wonder
b. electronics
c. violence
d. tradition
e. thirst

Turn them into adverbs in the following sentences:

1. The storm struck the city __________ and destroyed many buildings.
2. The community lived __________, without electricity or other modern conveniences.
3. The young boy sang __________, and everyone who heard him was moved.
4. The message was sent __________.
5. The man drank __________ after walking many miles.
BONUS: Can you make adjective forms for each word above?

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION OR WRITING:

If you can, try to talk about these questions in English with a friend. If not, try writing your answers.

1. Why do you think the ring is returned to the mice? Is it coincidence?
2. Why do you think it's the blind mouse who finds the ring?
3. The mice seem to have forgotten their quarrel. Why do you think that is?

ANSWERS TO THE PRACTICE:

1. violently
2. traditionally
3. wonderfully
4. electronically
5. thirstily

Adjectives:
a. wonder > wonderful
b. electronics > electronic
c. violence > violent
d. tradition > traditional
e. thirst > thirsty

This lesson is ©2012 by James Baquet. You may share this work freely. Teachers may use it in the classroom, as long as students are told the source (URL). You may not publish this material or sell it. Please write to me if you have any questions about "fair use."

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Mini-Lessons from Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2012

These Mini-Lessons are posted on Twitter, and in China on Weibo, throughout the day. You can follow them there!

To get the most from them, you should try to use them in sentences, or discuss them with friends. Writing something on Twitter or Weibo is a great way to practice!
  • Link: Lots of vocabulary lessons, with free audio: http://www.esl-lab.com/vocab/index.htm
  • Ancient History: Black Death: 14th-century disease, killed nearly half of Western Europe. A form of bubonic plague, caused by fleas living on rats.
  • Irregular Verbs: Children often ring my doorbell. One rang it yesterday. They have rung it many times.
  • Idiom: second wind: renewed energy after being tired. "I was going to leave work at 7pm; but I got my second wind, and stayed til 10."
  • Pop Culture: Ansel Adams: (1902-1984) American photographer. Made clear, real-looking black-and-white of nature scenes and buildings.
  • Slang: this second: right now, or just a moment ago. "Oh, you're here? I just called your house this second."
  • Government: left-wing: liberal political views, especially those meant to help the poor, weak, or powerless.

NOTES:
  1. The Idiom, the History and Government words, and some of the Pop Culture words, are from lists in the Dictionary of Cultural Literacy. I wrote the definitions and examples myself.
  2. The Link was found online; the Slang words, the Irregular Verbs, and some of the Pop Culture words are from my own lists, and I wrote the definitions and examples myself.

This lesson is ©2012 by James Baquet. You may share this work freely. Teachers may use it in the classroom, as long as students are told the source (URL). You may not publish this material or sell it. Please write to me if you have any questions about "fair use"

PR Terms

We've moved!
This lesson has been moved to my latest website, and can now be found at

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Mini-Lessons from Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2012

These Mini-Lessons are posted on Twitter, and in China on Weibo, throughout the day. You can follow them there!

To get the most from them, you should try to use them in sentences, or discuss them with friends. Writing something on Twitter or Weibo is a great way to practice!
  • Tip: Paraphrase what you read. Stop, ask yourself questions, and say what the reading said, but in your own words. Better, write it down!
  • Proverb: Better safe than sorry: It's better to take time to be careful (safe) now, than to have problems (be sorry) later.
  • Academic Vocabulary: respond: answer. "I asked his name, but he didn't respond." Or "I asked his name, but there was no response."
  • Literature: New Testament: second half of the Christian Bible, tells stories about Jesus and his followers.
  • Art: Ring of the Nibelung: four operas by Richard Wagner, telling stories from Norse myths, featuring the hero Siegfried.
  • Slang: Cool: great, wonderful. A: "Want to see a movie?" B: "Cool! Let's go!"
  • Geography: Middle East: part of west Asia and north Africa that includes Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Turkey, etc.; Muslim culture strong in most.

NOTES:
  1. Academic Vocabulary is the Academic Word List from Oxford University Press. This is "a list of words that you are likely to meet if you study at an English-speaking university."
  2. The Proverb, and the Literature, Art, and Geography words are from lists in the Dictionary of Cultural Literacy. I wrote the definitions and examples myself.
  3. The Tip and Slang words are from my own lists, and I wrote the definitions and examples myself.

This lesson is ©2012 by James Baquet. You may share this work freely. Teachers may use it in the classroom, as long as students are told the source (URL). You may not publish this material or sell it. Please write to me if you have any questions about "fair use"

Show Me the Money!

We've moved!
This lesson has been moved to my latest website, and can now be found at

Monday, February 13, 2012

Mini-Lessons from Monday, Feb. 13, 2012

These Mini-Lessons are posted on Twitter, and in China on Weibo, throughout the day. You can follow them there!

To get the most from them, you should try to use them in sentences, or discuss them with friends. Writing something on Twitter or Weibo is a great way to practice!
  • Science: Celsius: or "degrees C," way to measure temperature; created by Swedish astronomer Anders Celsius. Used in most of the world.
  • Language Study: AD and BC: years of this era, and of the one before (this is 2012 AD). Some now use CE (Common Era) and BCE (Before Common Era).
  • Business: act of God: unexpected natural event, as a flood or earthquake. Property insurance policies often refuse to pay for such events.
  • Literature: Fifteen men on the Dead Man's Chest: song from Stevenson's pirate book "Treasure Island" (1883). The "chest" here is a treasure chest.
  • New Words: twenty-four seven: or "24/7"; all the time, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. "I'm yours, baby, 24/7!" "We offer 24/7support."
  • Slang: Naw: a casual way to say "no." A: "Are you going to the party tonight?" B: "Naw, I think I'll stay home and watch TV."
  • Modern History: Grigori Rasputin: (1869-1916) Russian monk, had "magical" power over the czar ("king") of Russia and his wife.

NOTES:
  1. Except for the Slang words, all the words in these Mini-Lessons came from lists either on the Oxford University Press site or in the Dictionary of Cultural Literacy. I wrote the definitions and examples myself.
  2. The Slang words are from my own list, and I wrote the definitions and examples myself.

This lesson is ©2012 by James Baquet. You may share this work freely. Teachers may use it in the classroom, as long as students are told the source (URL). You may not publish this material or sell it. Please write to me if you have any questions about "fair use"

Hiding behind Words

We've moved!
This lesson has been moved to my latest website, and can now be found at

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Mini-Lessons from Sunday, Feb. 12, 2012

These Mini-Lessons are posted on Twitter, and in China on Weibo, throughout the day. You can follow them there!

To get the most from them, you should try to use them in sentences, or discuss them with friends. Writing something on Twitter or Weibo is a great way to practice!
  • Link: Practice pronunciation: http://www.repeatafterus.com/
  • Ancient History: Juan Ponce de Leon: (1474-July 1521) Spanish explorer. Discovered Florida while (legend says) searching for the Fountain of Youth.
  • Irregular Verbs: A: "Did you find your keys?" B: "Yes, I found them." A: "Well, I still haven't found MINE!"
  • Idiom: C'est la vie: French for "That's life." It means "sometimes bad things happen." A: "I lost my job." B: "Oh, well. C'est la vie!"
  • Pop Culture: Jolly Roger: pirate flag, with a white skull and crossed bones on a black background
  • Slang: kiddo: a friendly nickname, especially from an older to younger person. Old guy: "How ya doin', kiddo?"
  • Government: propaganda: government messages to the public to influence opinion. May be true or false, but main purpose is political influence.

NOTES:
  1. The Idiom, the History and Government words, and some of the Pop Culture words, are from lists in the Dictionary of Cultural Literacy. I wrote the definitions and examples myself.
  2. The Link was found online; the Slang words, the Irregular Verbs, and some of the Pop Culture words are from my own lists, and I wrote the definitions and examples myself.

This lesson is ©2012 by James Baquet. You may share this work freely. Teachers may use it in the classroom, as long as students are told the source (URL). You may not publish this material or sell it. Please write to me if you have any questions about "fair use"

The Bronze Ring (21): The Ring is Lost


GET READY:

When a team does something, is any one member more important than any other? Why do you think so?

Three mice have taken the bronze ring from an old magician, and are bringing it to the gardener's son. The old man wakes to find the ring gone.

READ THIS:

[123] But by that time our three mice had set sail with their prize. A favoring breeze was carrying them toward the island where the queen of the mice was awaiting them. Naturally they began to talk about the bronze ring.
[124] "Which of us deserves the most credit?" they cried all at once.
[125] "I do," said the blind mouse, "for without my watchfulness our boat would have drifted away to the open sea."
[126] "No, indeed," cried the mouse with the cropped ears; "the credit is mine. Did I not cause the ring to jump out of the man's mouth?"
[127] "No, it is mine," cried the lame one, "for I ran off with the ring."
[128] And from high words they soon came to blows, and, alas! when the quarrel was fiercest the bronze ring fell into the sea.
[129] "How are we to face our queen," said the three mice "when by our folly we have lost the talisman and condemned our people to be utterly exterminated? We cannot go back to our country; let us land on this desert island and there end our miserable lives." No sooner said than done. The boat reached the island, and the mice landed.

NOTES:

Here is some vocabulary from the story:

a. favoring: favorable; positive, useful, helpful, etc.
b. credit: praise, recognition, thanks
c. watchfulness: attention, care
d. to drift: to move away without a clear direction; to float aimlessly
e. open sea: the ocean away from the shore
f. high words: angry words
g. blow: a hit; to "come to blows" is to begin hitting each other
h. quarrel: a fight; also a verb, to fight
i. fierce: violent, very angry
j. to face someone: to tell someone what happened and accept responsibility
k. folly: foolishness, stupidity
l. to condemn: here, to decide; to "condemn someone to be exterminated" is to decide that they must die
m. utterly: completely, absolutely
n. desert island: a deserted island, one without anyone living there
o. miserable: very unhappy, in very bad condition
p. No sooner said than done: a proverb meaning "as soon as it was said, it was done"
q. to land: for a boat to reach the land, or for an airplane to come down from the sky and touch the earth

PRACTICE:

Use one of the above terms in each of the following sentences. Be sure to use the correct form.

1. The judge __________ the killer to die.
2. What would you take to read if you had to live on a __________?
3. I couldn't __________ my father after I wrecked the car.
4. By the time we reached the __________, the land was out of sight.
5. If your plane __________ on time, I'll meet you at the airport.
6. The fighter fell down after an extra-hard __________ to the head.
7. I was __________ surprised by your call.
8. After another __________ argument, the couple decided to break up.
9. There's no use __________ over small things.
10. My boss never gives me __________ for the work I do.

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION OR WRITING:

If you can, try to talk about these questions in English with a friend. If not, try writing your answers.

1. Do you think one mouse deserves more credit than the others? If so, which one?
2. Why do you think their quarreling causes the bronze ring to fall into the sea?
3. Do you agree with their decision not to return home?

ANSWERS TO THE PRACTICE:

1 l condemned; 2 n desert island; 3 j face; 4 e open sea; 5 q lands; 6 g blow; 7 m utterly; 8 i fierce; 9 h quarreling; 10 b credit

This lesson is ©2012 by James Baquet. You may share this work freely. Teachers may use it in the classroom, as long as students are told the source (URL). You may not publish this material or sell it. Please write to me if you have any questions about "fair use."

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Mini-Lessons from Saturday, Feb. 11, 2012

These Mini-Lessons are posted on Twitter, and in China on Weibo, throughout the day. You can follow them there!

To get the most from them, you should try to use them in sentences, or discuss them with friends. Writing something on Twitter or Weibo is a great way to practice!
  • Tip: Keep a vocabulary notebook. Write new words and their meaning, and review them often. Best way: use them in sentences!
  • Proverb: Honesty is the best policy: Always tell the truth. Even if it seems to bring you trouble, it will turn out better in the end.
  • Academic Vocabulary: transmit: send, or allow to pass through. "Glass transmits light." "We received a radio transmission last night.
  • Literature: Blarney Stone: stone at a castle in Ireland. Legend says kiss it and you will be a "smooth talker," can get what you want from people.
  • Art: violin, viola, cello, and string bass: the four stringed instruments used in an orchestra, from the highest to the lowest in tone.
  • Slang: Hiya: another very casual way to say "Hello." "Hiya, buddy, what's up?"
  • Geography: the Highlands: mountain area in north and west Scotland, home of many Scottish traditions (wearing kilts, some dances and music, etc.)

NOTES:
  1. Academic Vocabulary is the Academic Word List from Oxford University Press. This is "a list of words that you are likely to meet if you study at an English-speaking university."
  2. The Proverb, and the Literature, Art, and Geography words are from lists in the Dictionary of Cultural Literacy. I wrote the definitions and examples myself.
  3. The Tip and Slang words are from my own lists, and I wrote the definitions and examples myself.

This lesson is ©2012 by James Baquet. You may share this work freely. Teachers may use it in the classroom, as long as students are told the source (URL). You may not publish this material or sell it. Please write to me if you have any questions about "fair use"

SQ3R, Part III


GET READY:

What is the difference between READING and STUDYING?

READ THIS:

Now we come to the final part in our series on "SQ3R," meaning "Survey, Question, Read, Recite, Review."

After we have "Surveyed" the article (headline, pictures and captions, lead) and developed some "Questions," we're ready to "Read" the body of the article itself.

As we go, we should bear in mind the questions we have developed. In the Chinese newspaper article we have been discussing, "Banks urged to make more loans," we still have two questions remaining: To whom are the "loans" to be made? And how will these new policies work?

The article tells us who might receive such loans in this sentence: "Measures will also be taken to improve the credit service of commercial banks to meet the demand for loans among SMEs [Small and Medium Enterprises], investors in the countryside and consumers needing loans for homes and cars."

There are also indications in the article that industry might benefit from these loans.

As for how the policies would be carried out, that is the bulk of the article, detailing "nine measures … taken to boost the role of the financial sector…"

Once we have read the article, and found answers to our questions, we're still not finished.

Someone once said, "The difference between reading and studying is a pencil." After reading the article, take some notes: jot down new words, make a note of interesting idioms and other expressions, and keep track of useful or interesting grammatical structures.

To "Recite" is to repeat to oneself the information gathered. Make small cards to carry with you, and go over them when you're waiting for a friend to arrive, or while riding the bus. Ask yourself a question, look away, try to answer, and then look at your card and check. This is an extremely effective way to learn.

If you wish to expand this part of your study, try writing sentences with new vocabulary or grammatical structures. Work these things into your emails or conversations. Through repetition, these elements of language will become yours.

Finally, "Review" what you have learned from time to time. Keep your study cards or notes and go over them again, refreshing the parts you've forgotten.

For example: Read one article in a newspaper every day, Monday through Friday. Apply the SQ3R method. Then, on the weekend, go over your notes and "test" yourself on the things you've learned.

I guarantee that, if you do this faithfully, your English will improve.

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION OR WRITING:

1. What does the "3R" mean? When do we do this?
2. What is the goal of "Read"?
3. Why do we "Recite"?
4. Why do we "Review"?
5. True or False: We can learn English by simply reading English.

ANSWERS:

1. "3R" means "Read, Recite, Review." We do these things after asking questions.
2. We "Read" to try to answer the questions we've asked.
3. We "Recite" to learn the new vocabulary and grammar we found in our reading.
4. We "Review" to be sure we don't forget what we've learned.
5. False! We need to interact with the things we read, as described in the SQ3R method.

This lesson is ©2012 by James Baquet. You may share this work freely. Teachers may use it in the classroom, as long as students are told the source (URL). You may not publish this material or sell it. Please write to me if you have any questions about "fair use."

Friday, February 10, 2012

Mini-Lessons from Friday, Feb. 10, 2012

These Mini-Lessons are posted on Twitter, and in China on Weibo, throughout the day. You can follow them there!

To get the most from them, you should try to use them in sentences, or discuss them with friends. Writing something on Twitter or Weibo is a great way to practice!
  • Science: bug: casual ("slang") name for a problem in a computer or other electronic device. "Can we fix this software bug?"
  • Language Study: contraction: shortening of one or more words, usually with an apostrophe ('). "Isn't" for "is not," "gov't" for "government," etc.
  • Business: deficit: shortage of money. "Deficit financing" (especially by governments) means paying for projects by borrowing money.
  • Literature: naturalism: style of writing and art that tries to show things as they really are. Leads to some unpleasant things, not all beauty.
  • New Words: speed dating: an event where many men meet many women by moving around a circle in short, timed conversations.
  • Slang: take someone's word for it: believe someone. A: "Rome is beautiful!" B: "I haven't been there; I'll have to take your word for it."
  • Modern History: Captain William Kidd: (1645-1701) English pirate. Fought against pirates, but then became one and was executed. Left buried treasure?

NOTES:
  1. Except for the Slang words, all the words in these Mini-Lessons came from lists either on the Oxford University Press site or in the Dictionary of Cultural Literacy. I wrote the definitions and examples myself.
  2. The Slang words are from my own list, and I wrote the definitions and examples myself.

This lesson is ©2012 by James Baquet. You may share this work freely. Teachers may use it in the classroom, as long as students are told the source (URL). You may not publish this material or sell it. Please write to me if you have any questions about "fair use"

SQ3R, Part II



GET READY:

What are the "Six Ws"? Hint: the first is "Who?"

READ THIS:

Last lesson we started looking at "SQ3R," a method for reading that will help you get the most out of reading articles, and chapters in books. (The name means "Survey, Question, Read, Recite, Review.")

In the second step, "Question," we take information from "Survey" and ask ourselves a few questions.

We were looking at an article in a Chinese newspaper titled "Banks urged to make more loans."

How many questions can you think of about such a headline? For example: Which banks? Urged by whom? Loans to whom? And so on.

We can also create questions about pictures (Who is in the picture? What is he or she doing?) and, especially, the "lead."

Here is the lead from that article:

"The State Council said yesterday it would adopt more favorable policies and update the financial system to encourage the country's commercial banks to grant more loans to support economic growth."

Now, the lead may answer some questions. To the question "Which banks?" we can answer "the country's [that is, China's] commercial banks." The "urging" is being done by "The State Council."

The only remaining question, then, is "loans to whom?" Meanwhile, you may find more questions to answer, such as: How will the new policies work?

As you move into the body of the article, keep these questions in mind: Who? What? Where? When? Why? and How?

When we ask "Who," there are often two sides: Who did something, and to Whom? The Headline tells us to Whom: banks. The lead tells us Who: The State Council.

Next, "What" did he, she, it, or they do? Most headlines will have a verb: that's a clue as to the main event of the article. Here, the State Council "urged" the banks. The verb in the lead can be a little tougher, as a lead usually tries to squeeze in as much information as possible. This lead has six verbs! (said, adopt, update, encourage, grant, support)

"Where" something happened may or may not be important. In this article, it doesn't really matter where the State Council was meeting, as long as we know that we're talking about China.

"When" may or may not be important. If something is going to happen in the future, the reader may want to be aware of it. But in most cases, the news we get is about the immediate past. (If it's in the distant past, it's no longer "news"!)

Finally, the "Why" and the "How" are often buried deep in the later part of the article. In this article, however, the lead tells us the "Why": "to support economic growth."

Now we are ready to read the body of the article, and apply the "3R" portion of "SQ3R": Read, Recite, Review.

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION OR WRITING:

1. What does the "Q" stand for in "SQ3R"? What does it mean?
2. What are three good things to ask questions about?
3. Where did we find the main point of this article (and, in fact, most articles)?
4. What sorts of things does the lead tell us?
5. What six types of questions can be asked in the "Question" stage?

ANSWERS:

1. The "Q" in "SQ3R" stands for "Question," meaning "ask questions."
2. Three good things to ask questions about are the headline, the pictures, and the lead.
3. The main point of this article is in the headline.
4. The lead tells us who did what to whom, and why they did it.
5. Six types of questions that can be asked in the "Question" stage are: Who? What? Where? When? Why? and How?


This lesson is ©2012 by James Baquet. You may share this work freely. Teachers may use it in the classroom, as long as students are told the source (URL). You may not publish this material or sell it. Please write to me if you have any questions about "fair use."